Category Archives: History

Coney Island Beach Crowds From July 4’s Of The Past

July 4 Holiday Views Of Coney Island Crowded Beaches 1938, 1942 & 1955

The crowded beach at Coney Island in the late 1950s

Beaches in New York City are popular during the summer. Especially around July 4. For over 150 years Coney Island has been a magnet for those seeking relief from hot weather. Combine those three factors and you can get huge crowds at Coney Island’s beaches during the July 4 holiday break.

Some people will not actually go on the beach. Instead they’ll walk along the boardwalk, visit the new Luna Park, watch the Nathan’s hot dog gorging contest or enjoy the fireworks show at night.

If you think the beaches get crowded these days, then have a look at old news photographs of Coney Island from July 4 holidays of years past. Continue reading

There’s Something The Cleveland Indians Haven’t Done in 51 Years

A Cleveland Indians Pitcher Has Not Stolen A Base Since 1967

In 1967 Cleveland Indians pitcher John O’Donoghue accomplished something that was not that uncommon at the time. On July 5, in the bottom of the fifth against the Detroit Tigers, O’Donoghue reached base on a force out. He then stole second base.

His steal was so uneventful it was not mentioned in most newspaper accounts of the game.

That unremarkable steal wound up being quite an achievement. It is the last time a Cleveland Indians pitcher stole a base. That’s right, 51 years ago, 1967. That it is the longest stretch any team in major league baseball has gone without one of their pitchers stealing a base.

There are three teams that came into the league through expansion where no pitcher has ever stolen a base. Two AL teams, the Seattle Mariners (1977) and the Tampa Bay Rays (1998) and one NL team the Miami Marlins (1993). Every other team has had a pitcher steal a base in the subsequent years.

Of course stolen bases have been steadily declining over the years for all of baseball.

But the idea has been propagated that pitchers are one-dimensional entities today. They’re specialists. They’re starters. They’re relievers. They may only be brought in to pitch to one batter. They’re not hitters. And they’re definitely not base runners. Continue reading

What Was In A New York Newspaper 100 Years Ago – June 16, 1918

A Look Back At What Was In The New York Tribune Newspaper 100 Years Ago, June 16, 1918

Immigrant Aliens, Child Labor and Of Course Entertainment

What was occurring 100 Years Ago? The Fairbanks Twins and Lillian Lorraine were about to appear in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1918 at The New Amsterdam Theatre.

It’s interesting to see what newspapers of the past contained. 100 years ago, June 16, 1918 the Great War (World War I) was still raging and battle news dominated the news. What else would you see in the newspaper as far as local matters?

Here are seven of the things I thought were worth highlighting from The New York Tribune. Click on any image to read the entire story.

The hostility towards immigrants who are not citizens has always existed. During World War I anti-German sentiment ran high. The government required that all alien (non-citizen) German women 14 and older register at their local police stations, take a loyalty oath and provide five photographs of themselves! Women who failed to register would be arrested and severely punished.

German women register with police

It seems like paranoia, but German espionage and sabotage were a real threat during the war. But usually the reason an entire group gets demonized is because they are an easy target when the populace gets inflamed. One man took matters into his own hands printing 3,000 signs to be distributed at shops along Fifth Avenue declaring, “Speaking of German Prohibited On These Premises.” The unnamed man ran out of signs within walking three blocks. Volunteers grabbed as many as they could to help pass them out. The thinking was this will “Americanize” those Germans.

There would be a big uproar if someone tried to do something similar today pointing the finger at any ethnic group, even when we are at war, which by the way, we still are. The never-ending “war on terrorism.” The language those barbarians who commit terrorist acts doesn’t matter, does it?

German language prohibited

You could say lawyer Albert W. Gray was henpecked, but the things Mrs. Gray did are a little more extreme than henpecking. Mrs. Gray made poor Albert account for every penny he spent and explain every moment and movement he made. Mr Gray had 11 years of being told when to wake, eat and sleep, before deserting his overbearing spouse. Mrs. Gray in her separation decree said if she only knew her husband was unhappy she would have changed her system of housekeeping!

Wife controlled every aspect of husband’s existence

The Tribune reprinted a whole page from the San Antonio, TX based Kelly Field military newspaper. Continue reading

The New York Rules Of Etiquette 120 Years Ago

The Extremely Formal & Somewhat Strange Greetings and Salutation Rules Of New York City Etiquette In 1899

A gentleman opens a door for a strange lady, holds it open with one hand and lifts his hat
with the other, while she passes through in advance of him. He always offers her the precedence; but he does it silently, and without resting his gaze upon her, as if he would say,
” You are a lady and I am a gentleman. I am polite for both our sakes. You may be young
and charming, or you may be old and ugly; it is all the same to me. I have not looked at you
to discern, but I am certain that you are a lady.” –  Social Etiquette of New York – Abby Buchanan Longstreet (D. Appleton & Co. – 1899)

“Ladies and gentlemen.” We’ve heard those words countless times, but what is it to be a lady or a gentleman? A century ago it applied to people who followed proper etiquette.

A society dinner c.1899

In the 19th and early 20th century etiquette was taken pretty seriously by some Americans. It was a time when etiquette meant proper behavior, civility and deportment. Manners and politeness were taken to heart.  The rigid rules and lessons were adhered to not just by wealthy society, but those who aspired to be true “ladies” and “gentlemen.”

If you were unsure of certain situational  behavior, scores of books were written on etiquette. Some books specifically concentrated on New York City etiquette.

“Everything which refines the habits of a people ennobles it, and hence the importance of
furnishing to the public all possible aids to superior manners.”

The sentiments are those of the doyenne of proper behavior,  Abigail Buchanan Longstreet (1833-1899) who wrote a number of books on good manners during the 19th century.

Longstreet’s book, written anonymously, Social Etiquette of New York, went through many editions and revisions between 1879 -1899, the year of  Longstreet’s death.

Depending on how you look at it,  you will see these rules as antiquated nonsense or quaint and dignified guidelines that are delightful to contemplate.

Today almost all of these forms of etiquette have been completely discarded or heavily modified.

Here are just a few of the rules for greetings and salutations. From the rules of Social Etiquette in  New York:

A gentleman always lifts his hat when offering a service to a lady, whether he is acquainted with her or not. It may be the restoration of her dropped kerchief, or fan, the receiving of her money to pass it to the cash-box of a car, the opening of her umbrella as she descends from a carriage — all the same ; he lifts it before he offers his service, or during the courtesy, if possible. She bows, and, if she choose, she also smiles her acknowledgment ; but she does the latter faintly, and she does not speak. To say ” Thank you ! ” is not an excess of acknowledgment, but it has ceased to be etiquette. A bow may convey more gratitude than speech.

Two ladies may extend hands to each other, and so also may two gentlemen, although hand-shaking is not so common as formerly. Continue reading

Incredible Film Footage Of Yankee Stadium On Opening Day 1931 With Sound!

The Sights & Sounds Of Yankee Stadium 1931 – Yankees vs. Red Sox

What follows is a rare and amazing 14 minutes of film.

Yankee Stadium on opening day April 14, 1931. Yankees versus the Red Sox. Happenings before and during the game.

What makes it so unusual is that the film crew was experimenting with syncing the sound to the action. So there are microphones recording what was being said or the resonant sounds of baseball. The players don’t quite know what to say when asked to speak. The natural sounds of the ballpark are just so different from today.

Batting practice with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Mayor Jimmy Walker throws out the first ball. An IRT train passes and stops beyond the left field bleachers. Everyone in the stands is well dressed as you’d expect. Large signs remind everyone that “Betting is prohibited.”

The lack of technology is pure pleasure. The advertising is on billboards same as now, but no ads or deafening music being blasted from speakers.  Your visual senses are not assaulted by a jumbotron. Fans look at the field, no distractions.

No P.A. system. A guy with a megaphone comes out and announces each team’s battery – a term rarely used today – for pitcher and catcher.

Then there is not only a patriotic marching band entertaining fans, but all the players from both teams march along with the band.

The game itself is great to see, but the things you notice while the game is going on seem so foreign to a modern viewing audience. Continue reading

10 Baby Names That Will Not Be Making A Comeback

Ten Boys Baby Names That Are Permanently Out Of Fashion And Will Never be Used Again

Actor Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge

Baby names go in and out of vogue. Some cycle through long and short terms of popularity. Other names are popular for a few years and then fade into oblivion. At the end of the article see the ten most popular male and female names given in 1880, 1950 and 2017.

One of my close relatives was named Adolph. Unless you are a big admirer of the Third Reich, most parents would avoid naming their child after the Führer. Yet there are people who do name their children Adolf or Adolph.

For every Benjamin, Lucas and Jacob (2017 popular names according to the Social Security Administration), there will be “unique” names such as Jaxx, Reign and Ledger.

While many parents want to give their child a unique name, most don’t want a really weird or antiquated name.

Here are ten male names that will not be making a comeback in the 21st century.

  1. Ebenezer – You could call him Eb for short, but no one is beating down the doors to start naming their children after Dickens’ miserly character Scrooge.

 

  1. Preserved – Some verbs can be used as a name, but Preserved? Yes, Preserved was a 19th century name. Preserved Fish mentioned in the famous Hone Diary, was a merchant who lived from 1766-1846.

 

  1. Telemachus – A somewhat unusual name even for the 19th century. But there were people with this name in the United States.  Greek mythology not withstanding, a name that is completely unused today and for the foreseeable future.

 

  1. Grover – Maybe you are a huge fan of the show Sesame Street or the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, Grover Cleveland. If not, it is highly doubtful that anyone will be naming their child Grover in this century.

 

  1. Egbert – A name guaranteed to incite endless name-calling, bullying and ass kicking once enrolled in school. To be avoided at all costs.

Continue reading

More Maude Fealy (And Her Actress Mother, Margaret Fealy)

Maude Fealy “The Most Beautiful Woman In the World” In An Atypical Pose

One of the most read stories we have done was about Maude Fealy the stage star and film actress who had a career that spanned the first half of the 20th century.

Given the lack of fact based information available on the internet about Fealy we’ve provided another short page devoted to this forgotten star.

This unusual photograph entitled The Coiffure no. 3 captures Maude Fealy in a very flattering pose.

The Coiffure no. 3 was taken by Rudolf Eickemeyer. If there were other photographs from this sitting indicated by the fact that this is called number three, I have not come across any of them.

In 1903 the Figaro Illustre of Paris held a contest and offered a prize for the woman who represented the “perfect type of beautiful womanhood.” Photographer Burr McIntosh submitted a photograph he had taken of Maude Fealy. A committee of experts pored over 30,000 entries and decided Maude Fealy was the most beautiful woman in the world.  Burr McIntosh won the prize for submitting the photo. Fealy wound up with the accolades.

Besides being a famous photographer, Burr McIntosh was the publisher of a popular magazine  in the early part of the 20th century, mostly featuring theatrical stars. In February 1904 Maude Fealy graced the Valentine Number of The Burr McIntosh Monthly. The illustration above was drawn by Clark Hobart in 1903.

When we first wrote about Maude Fealy there was uncertainty as to her exact date and year of birth. That has yet to be resolved, though we can now narrow Maude’s birth year to prior to 1884. Maude’s papers housed in the Denver Public Library give a likely birth date of March 3, 1881.

Through diligent research we have established two previous unknown facts regarding Maude’s domineering actress-mother Margaret: the date of her marriage and divorce to Maude’s father. Continue reading

Alexander Hamilton, The Grange & A Dubious Story Of 13 Trees

Alexander Hamilton’s Final New York Home, The Grange & The Mythical Legend Of Its 13 Trees

With A Description Of Hamilton’s Grange In 1872

Alexander Hamilton’s home, The Grange as it appeared in 1872. print: Appleton’s Journal

In New York City where “preservation” can be a dirty word, an impediment standing in the way of “progress,” it is miraculous that Alexander Hamilton’s home, The Grange, still exists.

Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton and the subsequent smash musical Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda, spurred an awareness and appreciation to a long dead founding father. Alexander Hamilton has been firmly reestablished in the pantheon of great Americans.

1867 New York City Atlas showing original location of Alexander Hamilton’s home The Grange

Alexander Hamilton’s original property of about 30 acres once stretched from about Tenth (Amsterdam) Avenue to St. Nicholas Avenue and from 138th to 145th Street. Hamilton’s Grange built between 1801 and 1802, had been threatened with demolition many times over its 200 plus year existence. The Grange was moved from its original location, not once, but twice.

As described in an 1872 Appleton’s article (reprinted at the end of our story), the author takes note that the house had survived late into the 19th century and should continue well into the 20th century.

“(The Grange) is constructed in the most substantial manner, and is good for a century yet, if the exigencies of city improvement do not demand its destruction.”

Those exigencies did arise a few years later. Hamilton’s home was first moved a couple of blocks south and a half block east in 1889. Real estate development had the Grange in the path of the street grid, laid out in 1811,  which had slowly but steadily worked its way north to upper Manhattan.

Thirteen “Union” Trees Planted By Hamilton print: Appleton’s Journal

After the move the Grange remained safe for the time being, but there was the matter of its famous group of trees, supposedly planted by Alexander Hamilton. The story was recounted by the Appleton’s article:

“A grove of thirteen stately gum-trees on the lawn in front of the mansion, which were planted by General Hamilton in token of the union and perpetuity of the thirteen original States of the republic. The beautiful star-like leaf of this tree rendered it peculiarly appropriate for the purpose.”

By March 1892 the Amos Cotting estate which now owned the parcel of land where the trees stood at Amsterdam Avenue and Convent Avenue between 142nd and 143rd Streets was set to be auctioned off. Destruction of the trees seemed imminent.

Wealthy businessman Orlando B. Potter bought the tracts of land where the trees stood for $140,500 and vowed to preserve the grove.

There was only one problem which seems to have escaped most historians notice, even up to this day – the trees were probably not planted by Alexander Hamilton. Continue reading

10 Modern Era Single Season Pitching Records That Will Never Be Broken

Ten Post-1901 Pitching Records That Will Never Be Broken

Jack Chesbro with the Boston Red Sox in 1909.

They say, “never say never.”

Records are meant to be broken.

But there are some pitching records that will probably never be broken and others that certainly will never be broken. We’re looking at records from the modern era only – post 1901.

Here they are:

10. Johnny Vander Meer 2 consecutive complete game no-hitters (1938)

Johnny Vander Meer had the good fortune to be the only pitcher to ever throw back to back no-hitters on June 11 and June 15, 1938 for the Cincinnati Reds.

It is now rare for a pitcher to throw a shutout, or even a complete game. In an era of relief specialization, analytics and match-ups, no-hitter’s are becoming a thing of the past. As of May 2018 there have been 297 no-hitters thrown in the past 117 years. 10 of those no-hitters were a team effort, thrown by two or more pitchers in the game. In 2015 there were seven no-hitters thrown. In 2016 and 2017 a total of just two no-hitters were thrown.

The notion that anyone will ever again throw two no-hitters in a row is a longshot. Three no-hitters in a row? No way.

9. Rube Marquard 19 consecutive wins (1912)

New York Giants starting pitcher Rube Marquard strung together 19 straight wins to begin the 1912 season. Long winning streaks by starting pitchers are uncommon nowadays. They’re yanked from games earlier than ever and no longer control the outcome in close games because they’ve hit their pitch count limits.  Can a modern day pitcher win 20 games in a row? If it were to happen, it would be a miracle.

8. Roy Face .947 Winning Percentage (1959)

How do you get a .947 winning percentage? You lose only one game and win 18. Pirates pitcher Roy Face achieved that lofty winning percentage all in relief. Face did not start one game. It is conceivable a pitcher could have a better winning percentage. It is also conceivable we will one day have world peace.

7. Nolan Ryan 383 strikeouts (1973)

Nolan Ryan was a strikeout machine. In 27 big league seasons Ryan mowed down 5,714 hitters primarily using his blazing speed.  If a pitcher struck out more than 383 batters in a season as Ryan did for the 1973 California Angels, it would mean striking out an average of about 1.5 batters per inning based on a 256 inning season.

In 2017 only ten pitchers threw 200 or more innings. Boston’s Chris Sale led all major leaguers with only 214.1 innings pitched.  Sale also struck out a stupendous 308 batters.

Since starting pitchers are pitching less innings than ever before, it seems highly improbable that any pitcher will ever strike out more than 383 batters in a season.

6. Ed Walsh 467 innings pitched (1908)

Talking about innings thrown this number is just insane, but White Sox Hall-of Famer Ed Walsh threw 467 innings in 1908. You read that right four hundred sixty seven. It’s probably a good thing they did not have pitch counts in 1908. This record is definitely safe.

5. Jack Chesbro 51 games started (1904)

This is one of three single season pitching records that Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders set in 1904 and will never be broken.

Pitchers don’t even start 35 games in a season anymore. With six man rotations coming into existence, it seems likely that we’re heading towards pitchers starting no more than 30 games per season. The last pitcher to come close to breaking Chesbro’s record was Chicago White Sox knuckleballer Wilbur Wood who started 49 games in 1972. Continue reading

The Empire State Building Opened On This Day – 1931

The Empire State Building Opens May 1, 1931

You probably won’t recognize this building unfortunately, though it is certainly New York’s most famous landmark. Every sightseer who has studied it up close will know it’s the Empire State Building. credit: Acme 9/7/51

There are not many 87-year-olds that look this good.

The remarkable Empire State Building may no longer be the tallest building in the world or New York City for that matter, but it still is one of the most iconic and beautiful.

The Empire State Building opened May 1, 1931. Dedicating the Empire State Building, President Herbert Hoover pressed a symbolic button in the White House that put on all the lights in the building.  (A worker in New York actually turned on the lights.)

Continue reading